A Musical Journey to Antarctica | Polarjournal
From her expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, “Inspiring Explorer” Ihlara McIndoe brought back very special sounds that inspired her to write five pieces of music. Photo: Screenshot “A Musical Journey to Antarctica”, New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust

A few days ago, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust invited visitors to a journey of a different kind to Antarctica: “A Musical Journey to Antarctica”. After an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, the young composer Ihlara McIndoe from New Zealand transformed her impressions into musical pieces that reflect the sounds of the White Continent. In a concert that could also be watched live online, she presented her compositions with four musicians in front of stunning images by renowned photographer and filmmaker Anthony Powell. Now it is possible to watch the recording of the musical journey online.

In addition to preserving the historic expedition stations of early Antarctic explorers such as Carsten Borchgrevink, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust sees it as its task to conserve the spirit of exploration of that time, to share it with the younger generation and to encourage them. This is done primarily through the “Inspiring Explorers” program, which enables young people to take part in expeditions to the polar regions.

In March 2020, Ihlara McIndoe and four other young New Zealanders undertook the “Inspiring Explorers Expedition” to the Antarctic Peninsula aboard Quark Expeditions’ Ocean Endeavour. Each of the team members had a different background and the projects of the five young polar explorers were correspondingly different.

Ihlara McIndoe has many talents: she is a composer, pianist and music educator in Dunedin, she was selected as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s National Youth Orchestra Composer-in-residence for 2021, and she has already spent a year working as a lawyer in Wellington. During her studies, she earned a Bachelor of Music, a Bachelor of Law, and a Bachelor of the Arts in Gender Studies. Photo: Marcus Waters, New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust

Ihlara’s intention during the trip was to find many different sounds to use in her composition projects. “I had an idea of what sort of sounds I might be hearing but it was incredible to hear so many sounds I didn’t expect. As we kayaked close to icebergs we could hear an overwhelmingly loud crackling sound, as well as the ocean sloshing up against them. Huge cracking sounds of glaciers carving in the distance sent rumblings bouncing off the surrounding bergs, echoing for a long time afterwards. Hearing those sounds was a huge highlight for me and a breathtaking experience,” she says in an interview with the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The “Inspiring Explorers” visited penguin colonies, got close to icebergs and glaciers, observed whales and marveled at the aurora australis. Very special impressions of the Antarctic fauna and the impressive landscape were provided by kayak excursions, which deepened their experiences. Ihlara said that soon all the team members were listening for sounds for her. By the end of the trip, Ihlara thus had an extensive collection of sounds that inspired her compositions for “A Musical Journey to Antarctica.”

“A Musical Journey to Antarctica” by Ihlara McIndoe.

“When people ask me how my trip to Antarctica was, I actually find it really difficult to describe in words! But humanity has a long history of saying what can’t be said in words through art. I think there is so much potential to share the magic of Antarctica through artistic platforms, and that’s really exciting,” says Ihlara.

And that’s exactly what she did. After many delays due to the Corona pandemic, the 70-minute concert could finally take place last Thursday, live in front of the audience and with livestream. Their impressive compositions for the classical instruments violin, viola, flute and guitar were harmoniously matched to photographer and filmmaker Anthony Powell’s visual presentation of photos and videos of the expedition, allowing the audience/viewers to experience Antarctica in a whole new way. A recording of the concert can now be viewed on the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust website.

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

Link to “A Musical Journey to Antarctica”: https://nzaht.org/share/films/a-musical-journey-to-antarctica/

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